tv [untitled] November 4, 2012 6:00am-6:30am PST
mixed use community for more than 20 years now. we understand it, we like it, but we know its flaws. and, so, when a rezoning process began again which kind of lumped us in with all these other neighborhoods, it wasn't one narrow self-interested group which pushed back against that. it was an entire coalition of stakeholders from south of market. really included the residents and the small business owners, lgbtq and the filipino community, arts, entertainment, community-based organizations, as well as the nonprofit and the market rate development community. nothing was working well. at the tail end of the dot-com era and the live/work boom, south of market was really in distress. and we all came together and
made a united push before this commission and before the board of supervisors to argue the case that we would like to engage in a bottom-up community-based process that would pick up on what had worked already from the south of market plan, but what needed to be tweaked and improved. and that's what we bring before you today. first thing we learned is to have any credibility at home, we needed to nurture a partnership with the city family. we could not do this ourselves. we did not have the wisdom to take on all the detail of a community planning process. so, step number one, we needed to employ a little bit of humility. that was made all the easier by the partnership we developed with paul lord.
paul lord and i worked in 2003 and 2004 so -- if we could have the slide here. paul standing up grinning. we worked in 2003 and 2004 to draft the legislation which created this body. and when this task force came into being, no one worked harder than paul lord to ensure that the community and the planning department began to work together and respect each other and treat each other as equals. we'll miss him a lot, but he was threatening to retire seven years ago and it finally happened. i must also mention the contributions of the department of public health and the transportation authority as well. both of those bodies were also represented on the task force from the beginning. lilly far hang, megan wier, and
[speaker not understood] helped to take all of the policies of the plan and run them through the healthy development measurement tool. the department public health is famous nationally for. we helped to really fine tune that tool and it's being expanded more throughout the city and into other planning processes. and chester fong, who has been on the task force for many years, while working along with tom radulavich and mark solomon, managed to not only write the entire transportation element of the plan which encompasses almost one-fourth of the entire plan, but chester also got the transportation authority to assemble a series of grants totaling i think
nearly $100,000 which has launched a western soma neighborhood transportation plan. that's giving us an opportunity right now to tryoutalley policies and programs on natoma, minna and ringold alley and lead to all other alleys in south of market. the slide shows the composition of the task force. i've also asked to pass that out to you members. ultimately the task force came to include 26 members. when we wanted to ensure that every possible stakeholder was represented on this body. it's been seven years. we've done our damnedest to hold this group together until this date came. but at this point we're down to 14. but i really want to
acknowledge the 50-some people who have devoted so much time, so much of their lives to creating something good for the neighborhood that we all love. two have died in the seven years that this has gone on. jim burk, who was the creator of the safe on sixth street program, was one of of our first land use experts. and tim bekko, a vietnam veteran who struggled with many health difficulties stemming from his service, eventually couldn't hold it together, but dan was one of the strongest, most contributory members of the entire task force. whenever we needed anything done, any heavy lifting, dan was there. other members moved on to other cities and other opportunities. it would be unfair to not admit
that some left in anger. they weren't getting everything that they had asked for. but if truth be told, of 50 members i can only think of two or three who were so unhappy that they left the task force. the way we structured this, we established ultimately four subcommittees. one that dealt with business and land use, another the complete neighborhood fabric, transportation focus group, and an arts and entertainment subcommittee. there were times in the first three years when, if you included the monthly task force meetings, we were meeting five times a month on this plan. it would be -- if that was the entire basis of the plan, that's fine, but that would turn its back on the community that brought us to the table in the first place.
so, this is kind of a balance between representative democracy where you have 26 appointed members and participatory democracy where you have the community as a whole. i know other planning processes have had town hall meetings or public workshops where people come and they sit and they watch the powerpoint presentation. but we wanted to take that much further. it's much more important to give people the tools of planning, to expose them to what you can do and what you can't do, and not get them lost in ephemeral notions of changing your community in the snap of a finger. planning can do many things. so, we also reached out to the community. we brought task force meetings down into the neighborhood as often as we could. we sat in a night club on 11th
street when we launched the whole idea of the social heritage district. we had a four-hour seminar type saturday that was held in the community room at the folsom door apartments where people -- we published a schedule and people that wanted to address various issues like affordable housing, transportation, a whole range of things, could come in and share their thoughts. no top-down sort of presentation. simply come in at a given hour and let's talk about this subject. and most importantly, i would have to really acknowledge the generosity of friends of city planning that we were given a $10,000 grant from them, which enabled us to not only do extensive publicity. if i could show you a series of
slides here related to the town hall meetings. but this $10,000 grant funded extensive publicity, including three mailings, ultimately to as many as 7,000 residents and small property owners in the community to let them know what we were doing and to invite them to these town hall meetings. and the town hall meetings paralleled the process that we were engaged in here at city hall, whereas we devoted the first year of our process here to talking about the vision and values. we wanted to bring to this process. and the principles that we wanted reflected in the plan. then we took that discussion to the first town hall meeting * and we've shared this with the community. we heard their views on this, and we incorporated that into the plan.
the second time around, when the task force members had been working seriously on an outline of the objectives of the plan, then we brought that into the community and we didn't use fancy words, planning terms, or anything, but we sat with them and we talked about, what do you want to accomplish with these plans? what's good about what we have? where do we need to change things? that was the second town hall meeting. and for the third meeting, we finally, after incorporating that input, we then brought down the first draft of the community plan. and the community spent two hours reviewing the plan, sent it back to us, and after another several months we then voted on the draft for citizens review. that was issued in the fall of 2008. that's when this commission
voted to initiate the environmental review. that's been going on ever since. the task force remained at full strength through that entire three-year process, all 26 members were in attendance. and many of them stayed on through the succeeding years as we began to get comments on the draft plan and as we met extensively to review where the plan could be adjusted, what could be improved, and to really fine tune the bigger ideas as corey mentioned, the community stabilization policy, their social heritage district, and other pieces of trailing legislation. so, we come before you today with what we voted to present about a year ago, and that is our proposal for adoption. this i present to you today, the western soma community
plan, building a complete neighborhood. thank you very much. i would like to begin to introduce our presentation. and our first speaker will be peter cohan, who at the time served as the director of the community planning program at asian neighborhood design. they provided considerable amount of technical assistance to the task force. so, let me introduce peter cohen. >> thank you. thank you, jim. good afternoon, commissioners. i'm here in a whole different capacity. so, i'm enjoying this, and thank you for asking me, jim and others from the task force. i've been involved in many area plan processes in san francisco in many different roles and this was a particularly unique role for us because at the time
my day job, how i actually help to pay the rent, we had a community planning program which -- in neighborhood asian design provide technical support and processes for research work in many parts of the city. western soma folks came to us and said, can you really provide kind of our main staffing to augment what paul lord at the planning department was able to do? and we had a small technical team and we thought this was great. so, we were essentially consultants to a planning process which put us in this very official role. but really because of the nature of the process, we were co-thinkers. it was a very different role and relationship than consultants typically have in planning. we were sitting across a table, at the table with lots and lots of bosses. the task force committees, town halls, working teams, and really thinking through and trying to interpret and reflect and do the kind of research work that helped folks to shape their community plan. so, it was a very unique kind
of consulting role. it was an overall theory, i would say. i don't know if jim would agree, but there are the pieces of the theory i would say was built into this. it wasn't just let's get a plan done, but an overall theory of an approach. first was the technical assistance was direct to the community. not secondhand through planning staff or through some kind of agency intermediary, which is typically how planning works, but directly to the community as the client. second was that out of that process come what's called citizen planners. now, my term, i think it may be jim or some other folks, but it's not just going to shad receipts and having a good time and using your experience, but actually * learning something and gaining some skill sets and expertise to become a citizen planner and that became part of the theory. third was that the work product that comes out the back end of it has the community's fingerprints all over it. it's not just feedback to the plan, but actually literally shaping it. folks should be able to see a piece of it or the whole thing that they touched and they
shaped. the next is ownership of the process. again, how the conversation moves is not kind of rigidly set up, here's plan meeting 1, 2, and 3 and here's your chance for 30 days of feedback. but the process sort of shapes and ebbs and flows in a way that folks feel like they own it and they're not being left hidv. it's not moving too fast, ideally not too slow. * behind another piece of that is the analysis, the technical work is creative. there is analytical creativity. it's not a formula for planning. so, if there is a question that's being asked, we don't say, sorry, there's no methodology for that. we figure out how to answer the the question. so, there was a lot of moving which is essentially empirical thinking. citizen planners come to a planning process thinking about the future with a different set of question the professional planners. to be able to figure out a way to address those questions from an analytical standpoint. and lastly it's to start the process from a clear understanding of existing character of the community.
before you start planning a community's future is to understand what the community is today. both physically and socially. so, with that i want to give you just a little taste of some of the work product we did and tell you [inaudible]. if we could have the overhead, please. we used a lot of maps. just a little sampling of some things i pulled up of some work that we did which was in response to what we were asked to investigate. it was more -- it was just as important for folks not just to know the historical, physical fabric of south of market, but also its cull tooerv resources and be able to identify those and map those and preserve those or build those into its future. * cultural so it's hard to see this map. it's complicated because this is at least three layers of understanding the historical and cultural landscape and history of south of market. and where are location literally that reflect that, and how can that be recognized,
respected and preserved over time as part of planning the future and embracing change. so, that's just kind of one way we did it. and this speaks to what i call a investigative and very fine-grained approach. we were down into the weeds of a lot of things. for example, looking at blocks of the neighborhood as clusters, and each one of them having its own distinct characteristics. we named each cluster. we dug into the back yards and understood what made this particular cluster different from that. so, it was an extremely fine grain approach which i think is important. another -- here's another map. this is a historic resources survey. so, we started making sure we understood how the layers of data overlap with each other and how those in turn related to some of the culture resources. the other thing that was related to this kind of fine grained approach was an emphasis on fieldwork. we spent an incredible amount of time on the ground. we tried the ground truth, all the data sets that we collected
which doesn't always happen because it's an incredibly labor inextensive process. and we used students, volunteers, interns literally to do that, but we spent incredible amount of time on the ground. part of that was to get good data, but also again, back to my point about understanding the existing community, we wanted to make sure the technical team got to really know the landscape that they were planning. and not just approach it at a theoretical level. one of the things that came out of this was to figure out what will be a suitable sites for new development, of course. there is typical soft site analysis we do with planning, get data sets and come up with places that are under utilized, whatever reasons they could be developed [speaker not understood]. it's typically done remotely. we wanted to have a little bit more of a robust analysis and methodology. so, we developed this housing suitability criteria approach. this is just a couple of slides out of it, with a scoring system that, you know, calculation of the number of units that could be produced,
what is the existing type of use of a site. is there historic building, what is the surrounding uses. we tried to have this whole system that looked both quantitatively and qualitatively at sites for development and what would be appropriate came out of that. one example hereof this kind of grading system, kind of high opportunity sites, some scored a little lower. did this for each of those particular clusters throughout the area. so, it wasn't a cookie cutter approach. just an example of how we tried to do this very careful work. in the process i want to say this is -- a lot of this is student work you're looking at. we incubated a lot of student talent and interns, and they all have much better jobs than i do, by the way. they hunt me down, hey, i'm working for this consulting firm and making good money. so, this is just a series of what came out of the housing opportunity sites analysis, sort of three different layers. this is the whole western soma
area with this gradation. first looking at capacity, proximity, what is adjacent to the particular sites, and looking at public realm characteristics. these all kind of overlay. so, again, that's just an idea of how we approached it. and the reason i wanted to show you this as well is my final point. we approached this using a lot of visualization tools. one of the things we found in talking to folks there are too many words in planning and too many acronyms and too many documents and there is too much paper. but a lot of folks intuitively understand their community by looking at maps and looking at other visualization tools. so, we did a lot of that. we had a very talented person on our staff that could do js and that kind of business. the idea wasn't to throw data at people. the idea it was to help folks understand their landscape through visualization tools. in closing, i really enjoyed it. it seems a while ago now, a long ago chapter, but it it was a really fun process and i think they were some of the most creative planning work
that came out of that particular plan process than anything i've been involved in. the people's plan in the mission was another opportunity to do that. and i think the plan that's done here really reflects that kind of careful thinking and that sense of ownership of the process. >> chris schaeffer from the community outreach program helped us with the entire process of the town hall meeting. she helped us to flame the meetings and provided us with outside facilitators and note takers. i think one of the more important aspects of our process was we did not act as our own facilitators and note takers because then you have a tendency to only hear what you want to hear. so, chris flameded these outside facilitators to focus on the work of this planning process, but then they
approached the community with a whole fresh set of eyes and ears and everyone that participated in the program was grateful for how successful these three town hall meetings went. so, let me introduce chris schaeffer. >> good afternoon. i typically don't do presentations, so, excuse me for not being used to using powerpoint. most orphan we're having a dialogue with the community, so. just a little bit about myself. i've been a citizen of san francisco for the past 40 years, and currently my profession has asked me to serve as its representative with the department of labor's revisions and updating of the directory of occupational titles. so, i will represent my profession in training and organization development of that capacity. but the other thing that i have
done is i'm also the in-service manager for a group called the community outreach program that's located here in the bay area. this is an example of the team of nine people from the community outreach program who just helped to facilitate a meeting to understand the future of san francisco transit and had a large community group in which we were listening to their input. the community outreach program cop has also facilitated three town halls for japantown as well as other community input meetings. and we were invited to work with the western soma citizens planning task force at a level that i think was outstanding in terms of the work that we've done in facilitating meeting with the neighbors. so, there were three things that we were asked to do. one is that we were trying to
set a goal for community input and involvement that was higher than typically -- so the community was involved in providing input as opposed to being passive participants. another thing that we did is to help the community understand a broader role. and the third thing is to have the community provide feedback to us after each one of the meetings. so, some of the things that we did was to get and give large amounts of information from the large numbers of people that were there involved in each one of the town halls. town hall would have almost 200 people attending each one of the town halls. the second is to use some media facilitation techniques that would dwelt input. at the first town hall we had surveys, extensive surveys from people who were either representing business or people who represented the residents. we did a lot of work in small groups. that's why we had large number of facilitaters so the people
could speak in smaller groups. and that we used a technique called gallery in which the task force had set up various stations. as you know they had four major subject areas. a gallery allowed people to walk around and take a look and provide input or ask questions. and post-its, a very low tech, high touch technique in which people can write down -- every voice could be heard because everybody can write at the same time. then you can start ask questions, you know, you can do a lot with that. so, it what what i would call a high-touch low-tech environment in which people could provide input. so, one of the themes of western soma, in every meeting in every town hall was always the theme of the public is always welcome. and, so, what i'd like to do in some of these slides is to talk about the very deep meaningful
commitment to community involvement. this is a simple model that talks about the levels of community. and you can see down at the bottom is that people could be basically informed. but at the very top, the role for citizen power really rests in having citizens either have control, have power such as be able to provide input to direct the conversations and to be truly a partnership. and, so, that was the intent of the level of community input. this statement about being a citizen planner actually came from what we were trying to do in the second town hall. this is the handout from the second town hall that everybody got, and it says that one of the things that we wanted to do is to create citizens planners. a citizen planner is a
resident, small business owners, community activists and public officials trained in the basics of land use and urban design, rking together to create a more livable neighborhood, economic opportunities, safer streets and a healthy environment. that is quite in a digressive new way to deal with people who come to your meeting and that is the role that we had as helping to design and facilitate those meetings. so, let me just summarize briefly those three town halls. and the very first town hall, we were asking people to provide input. businesses and residents, about what their needs were. and listened not only to what they said on paper but also what they had to say in the small meetings. and the second town hall, participants provided input about those four key issues, those four groups. and the third town hall,
participants asked questions about the draft of the community plan. so that they saw the community plan and had an opportunity to both understand it and learn more about it. so, i wanted to highlight just some kia tributetion. i don't want to say any more about the plan. that's not our role, not to be content experts. our role was to be the process expert * who helped to get the public to talk. so, the very first town hall, our objective was to listen to you about issues that are important to you. and in that process of listening, we got 105 businesses and 167 residents to somehow -- have surveys to have a discussion with us. the second is that as we filled that meeting, i want to show you the explicit ground rules. everybody at the meeting who
represented the task force was told to shut up and listen, and that's one of the reasons why we were there, is to put a muffle on the tendency which is to act as the expert. okay. the next town hall, town hall number 2 was very explicit in saying we wanted the participants to learn how to be citizens planners, to suggest solutions, but also to provide the citizens with ways to continue to provide solutions and to be an ongoing part of the process. so, we showed them a whole variety of difficult receiptctionv tools for -- different tools to be able to do that. and in that town hall and each of the town halls we conducted exit interviews. we would actually do face and face one on one exit interviews as participants left so we could hear from them what they felt about the meetings. one of the questions we asked is, do you understand your